Women's Track will rely on talent and work ethic in order to succeed in 2003-04

Aug. 26, 2003

Last year served as a foundation for things to come. The Penn women's track and field team recorded an impressive season that included two school records, two All-Ivy League honorees and five All-East award winners. Despite finishing eighth at the Outdoor Heptagonal Championships, the Red and Blue are confident in their work ethic and talent and are aware that they need to build on their past performances in order to succeed.

Although the foundation for excellence is there, Head Coach Gwen Harris says that for ultimate success the team needs one thing - unity.

"We need to embrace the freshmen. With the leadership of the senior class, we have the opportunity to be tremendous," Harris said.

The Red and Blue have brought in a freshman class of 24 to go along with the 22 returning letterwinners. If the Quakers can embrace each other and be truly unified, Penn is bound to be seen as a serious Ivy contender in the coming year.

Cross Country/Distance
The Penn women's cross country team will look to improve and rebuild as it enters the 2003-04 season. The Quakers graduated No. 1 runner and All-Ivy selection Abigail Gleeson and No. 3 runner Kristen Koch, opening up key spots on the Quakers' roster.

Expected to make an impact in the lineup are team captain Elaina Lord and Christine Myers. Last season, Lord consistently ran in the No. 2 position helping to lead the Red and Blue to top finishes at both the Pre-Nationals and the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals.

Myers, who was the only freshman to break into the top five positions on the team last season, is expected to return strong and resume her spot as one of Penn's top runners.

Also battling for spots in the Quakers' lineup will be senior Emily Logan and junior Claire Duncan. Both Logan and Duncan have seen considerable time in the past two seasons and are expected to be major contributors to the team.

The veteran Quakers will be joined by 11 freshmen in 2003, adding both the depth and talent necessary to become contenders in the Ancient Eight.

Despite graduating four seniors, the throwing squad is expected to be a major strength of the Quaker track and field team. Sophomores Michelle Bowen and Charity Payne, who in their rookie campaigns emerged as top throwers in the Ivy League, are expected to lead the Quakers this season.

Bowen, who is currently third all-time at Penn in the hammer, will look to improve on her seventh-place finish at the Heptagonal Championships. She will also return as the Quakers' top 20-pound weight thrower.

Payne made an immediate impact on the Ivy League in her first season as a Quaker. Payne, who was named along with Bowen as a 2003 MVP Freshman, finished fourth in the shot put at the Outdoor Heptagonal Championships. She currently stands second all-time at Penn in shot put and is expected to be a top performer in the discus and javelin as well.

Senior Mikaelyn Austin will return as the top discus thrower for the Quakers. Last season, she moved to No. 4 all-time at Penn and narrowly missed qualifying for the ECAC Championships.

With the loss of Julie Siebert-Johnson to graduation, senior Kai Ivory will move up as the top Quaker javelin thrower this season. Ivory qualified for the NCAA Regionals in the event and has the talent to place high in the Ivy League during her senior campaign.

Senior Grace Maloney returns as the Quakers' top high jumper this season after a junior campaign that included being named second-team All-Ivy and All-East. Maloney consistently jumped 5'7" and is expected to be amongst the top jumpers in the East. Maloney will be joined by junior Rachel Dailey to make up the core of the vertical jumping team.

The Red and Blue will once again have depth in the pole vault as they return three seasoned jumpers this season. School record holder Samantha Crook, who finished ninth at the NCAA Regional Championships in 2003, will lead Penn. The Quakers will also look to score points with senior Ingrid Gustafson and sophomore Lauren Davis, who both vaulted over 11 feet in 2003.

Hurdles and Sprints
For the second year, senior co-captain Michelle Hart will lead the hurdling squad. In 2002-03, Hart emerged as one of the top hurdlers in Penn history, as she moved to third all-time in the 60-meter high hurdles. She also proved to be versatile as she scored points for Penn in the 100-meter hurdles, 400-meter hurdles, pentathlon and as a member of the 4x400-meter relay.

Hart will be joined by 2003 MVP Freshman Dana McCurdy in the 400-meter hurdles and Ivory in the 60 and 100-meter hurdles.

The sprint crew returns a solid group of runners, led by junior Izu Emeagwali. Emeagwali broke the school record in the 60-meter dash at Indoor Heps and is expected to once again be the Quakers' top performer in all of the short sprints in 2003-04.

Senior Erin Rhoades will also bring experience to the sprints. Rhoades has consistently finished as one of the top two sprinters on the Penn roster during her career.

After graduating two 400-meter runners, senior sprinter Susan Eisenberg will bring experience and talent to the event for the Quakers. While in the 800-meter run, Anna-Marie Allander and Jillian Connell should lead a group of talented underclassmen.

Ivory will once again prove to be a dominating force in the pentathlon and heptathlon. In 2003, Ivory was named All-East in the pentathlon and All-Ivy in the heptathlon. Her talent and versatility have positioned her as a top contender not only in the multi's, but in the javelin and long jump as well. Freshman Shani Boston will join Ivory this year in both events and is expected to make a major impact for the Quakers.

Class of 2007
Harris and her coaching staff have recruited an impressive group of newcomers who are among the best high school athletes in the country.

Down on the field, hammer and discus thrower Catrina Chisholm and shot and discus thrower Charli Tabler will join an already talented throwing squad. In the horizontal jumps, Joanna Chung, Jerrie Kumalah and Catherine Magyera should fill the void left by the graduation All-Ivy selection Meghan Moran. Lea Chu should make an immediate impact as she joins the vertical jump squad.Krysta Copeland, Kayla Crawley, Jeanette Curtis, Andi Glick, Laura Nanni and Leslie Wilson show strength in the short sprints and hurdles.

The Red and Blue will gain several middle distance and distance runners in the 2003-04 season, an asset that should not only help them at the track and field Heptagonal Championships, but throughout the cross country season as well. Molly Ainsman, Jennifer Sawin, Jennifer Zurawell and Christina Morrison will aid the middle distance and long sprint squad, while the distance team will be joined by Jennifer Blank, Emily Buzzell, Kimberly Caramanica, Courtney Darcy, Jacqueline Dunn, Christine Quinn and Elizabeth Uible.

Looking Toward the Future
The Quakers' core of 22 upperclassmen and 24 newcomers should be able to use the foundation of last season to build themselves into Ivy contenders. The talent, heart and determination are all there. Now all they need is unity.

Written by Tonia Sabino